Aging In Place

2/15/2023 | By Faith Boluwatife

Most of us as parents watch our children leave the nest to live independent lives. But when a child with disabilities is unable to live independently, parents may need to keep their child close, even after they reach adulthood. For parents, this raises a very real concern: what will become of my special needs child? For aging parents of adults with disabilities, the worry includes living situation – as parents may have their own changing residential needs – and finances, .

We will explore some options for care, financial considerations, and the emotional impact of the decision.

Understanding the challenges of caring for people with special needs

Disabilities can range from physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, to intellectual disabilities, such as Down syndrome or Autism spectrum disorder. Specific needs vary, including managing medications, providing physical therapy, ensuring a safe and accessible environment, and affording opportunities for recreation and socializing.

When a special needs child or adult requires constant care and attention, the task becomes more challenging as parents face their own health limitations.

Considerations for aging parents of adults with disabilities

When caring for a special needs child or adult becomes more difficult, consider:

Retirement living

Retirement living can be a significant concern for aging parents of adults with disabilities because most facilities won’t permit an adult to co-reside with their parents. However, there are facilities that allow seniors who are parents of adult children with disabilities to cohabit with their children. The idea is to keep the family together and ease the minds of parents that may not want their children away from them.

In-home care

In-home care involves having a caregiver come to your home to assist with daily activities and medical care. This option allows your child to remain in a familiar and comfortable environment and provides assistance in caring for them.

Community living

Mother with her disabled adult son. By Oksana Amelia. When someone is unable to live independently, aging parents of adults with disabilities must often find living options and financial support.

Assisted living options for special needs adults include assisted living, independent living, and group homes. These provide a home-like setting for disabled adults who need care and support as well as a range of services, including medical care, therapy, and recreational activities. The level of care varies, but all provide a supportive environment for disabled individuals and relieve the difficulties that caregivers can face.

Deciding to place your disabled child in the care of others can be emotionally challenging. Parents may experience feelings of guilt and grief, even if they’re confident of their decision.

It’s important to seek support and resources to help manage the emotional impact of the decision. Talking to a counselor, support group, or other trusted resources can provide a safe and supportive environment for you to process your emotions and find comfort during this difficult time.

Related: Take a care assessment to determine which option works for your needs

Financial support

The cost of caring for a disabled child can be significant and can put a financial strain on families. Moreover, parents want to know that their child will be cared for even after the parents can no longer provide for them. Parents of adults with disabilities can consider:

Special needs trusts

A special needs trust can be used to hold and manage assets for the benefit of a disabled individual. These trusts can help families protect their assets while still allowing them to access government benefits, such as Medicaid, to help pay for the care of their disabled child. People of any age can have special needs trusts.

ABLE accounts

ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts are special tax-advantaged savings accounts that are designed specifically for individuals with disabilities and their families. These accounts are intended to help families save for the long-term expenses associated with caring for a disabled child, such as education, housing, and transportation.

Unlike special needs trusts, ABLE accounts are only available to people who were disabled before age 26.

Government benefits

Parents of disabled children may be eligible for government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. These programs can provide financial support for medical expenses and other necessary care.

Choose the best care options for your loved ones

Caring for a disabled child can be a challenging and complex task, especially as parents approach retirement. However, with proper planning and the use of available resources, it is possible for aging parents of adults with disabilities to ensure that their loved one is well taken care of both now and in the future.

Faith Boluwatife

Faith Boluwatife is an enthusiastic freelancer and regular contributor for As an experienced writer, Faith has created content for diverse industries.